Saturday, June 30, 2012

#166 MICRO MACHINES – SUPER MICROLIGHTS COLLECTION #11 (1991)




BRIEF HISTORY OF MICRO MACHINES - Part 1

The following article is a translation of the article written by myself for this issue of “Figuras en Acción”. The article tells the history of Micro Machines without going very deep in details. It is a good introduction for people who know nothing or very few about MM. The article included originally many pictures from MM collections that already appeared in this blog, plus some more that are still to come. I’ll take advantage of this to present now two more collections in this and the next blog entries.

There is a rule in marketing which is called “Value for Money”, that is, a customer must have the feeling that his or her money is well spent and receives something valuable in exchange. If somebody is offered two similar products at the same price, he or she tends to choose the biggest one from those two.

The final “push” for the launching of this miniaturized cars’ toy line (around 2 cms) was probably the same that shrunk action figures like G.I.Joe: ARAH, that is, the rising price of oil. Such a small car can only be manufactured with some detail in plastic, so the collection is completely different from previous die-cast car lines. We have to consider, that MM is a toy, and not an adult collectable (there’s many H0 scale manufacturers, for example for electric trains). It is for this reason and for the difficulty of working at such a small scale, that the cars are not designed as exact replicas of real cars, but designed with a nice look, almost like cartoon’s cars.

In Spain, it was 1990, and, like most of the times, toys came again with a two or three years delay. Famosa had the honour (and the great luck) of distributing this toy-line in Spain, although the toy itself was made in China. The first MM were manufactured by Galoob in 1987, and since the very first day, the line became a best-seller, and boy’s favourite.

Such a product is very difficult to bring it to the market. For less money you can find the classic 1:64 cars, that everyone knows. The price of a MM collection (a normal collection, named “Ultrafast”, and includind 5 cars) was in Spain around 900 pesetas (5,40 Eur). For that money you could get the same number of 1:64 Spanish miniatures (like Guisval or Mira) or maybe 4 Majorette die-cast models.

Ultrafast Collection #18 - Formula Racers

The advertising campaign was something never seen before in the toy market, and specially in the toy car/miniature market. 25 years later, very few have forgotten the ad, in which a man (John Moschitta Jr., world recordman at the time in talking fast) repeated the slogan: “If it doesn’t say Micro Machines, it’s not the real thing!”


Maybe some of you (if you were a –Spanish- child in the early 1990s) may also remember the afternoon TV program aired by Antena3 (“La Merienda”, hosted by Miliki and Rita Irasema). In this program, there was a game show in which children had to repeat the MM slogan (as in the ad) in order to win a MM collection for each repetition during a given time.

Rita Irasema and Miliki - La Merienda de Antena3

The proof of this instant success is that, while the first wave comprised 11 collections, the second wave comprise 24 sets, plus 4 “deluxe” sets, the third series even more “standard” sets, plus more and more sub-series with special features, a real headache for collectors!

Deluxe Collection #1

The special features mentioned above made the cars more attractive, but also more expensive to manufacture. Collections of different series, included a different number of cars: ordinary, standard series included 5 or 4 cars, while the most exclusive collections included 3, 2 or even 1 single vehicle.

Private Eyes Collection #8

Some of the most extravagant collections included cars with lights (see below), sounds or smell, monster trucks with rubber tyres, cars in which you could peek what’s inside, cars inside of cars inside of cars… Galoob’s designers and creatives were genius!

[continues here]


And now, not to break the rule of this blog: one entry - one toy (or publication), I will quickly present the Super Microlights Collection #11, which is shortly mentioned above. This collection, as the name indicates, includes battery operated cars, with lights on the inside. When on, that light let us see the silhouettes of people inside of the cars, which in my opinion is one great feature.

Most precisely, collection #11 of Super Microlights include two models: the camper and the motor home. When I was a kid, I always wanted to have a -real- motor home.


FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: Micromachines Super Microlights Collection #11
  • Scale of the cars: 1:150 aprox.
  • Year: 1991
  • Company: Galoob (U.S.A.)
  • Size: approx. 3 cm

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

#165 GOOD TIMES - KULT! – Nr. 6 (2/2012)



The last issue of Kult! comes with another bunch of great articles. This time there are three (3!!!) articles dealing with toys, what makes me very happy. These three articles are:
  • One dealing with tin animal toys, made between the 1800s and 1960s. The article is based on a mobile exposition that has been already shown in some german cities, and that continues on tour but also on the book “Mechanische Tierwelt”/ “Mechanical Animal World” by Köpcke and Weinhold, which is probably a very interesting book to read too, and that is the perfect partner to the exposition.
  • The second article is an overview of toy cars made after movies and tv series. Among the models shown, is James Bond’s Aston Martin, already shown here.
  • The third article is a three-page article talking about card decks and “quartetts”, mostly from the 60s and the 70s, and showing a great variety of very interesting decks. In this blog we also showed some interesting decks of cards, check here.
The rest of the magazine is also extraordinarily interesting, as usual, we can find articles about movies and TV series (Hitchcock, Charlie´s Angels, War films), cars (BMW Isetta, Simson), books and comic books (Tintin), music and much more… guaranteed not to bore!

Monday, June 25, 2012

#164 PRINCESS OF POWER – ANGELLA (1985)



PRINCESS OF POWER: FIRST WAVE

I already made a short introduction to this line in the entry in which I showed Enchanta. Now I will continue talking about the first wave, that is the most common, and the one I know best, since I have a few figures and creatures released in 1985.

As mentioned in that entry, PoP designers probably had “carte blanche” to start this line. Since the MOTU line was so profitable, PoP started directly with 8 figures, 4 creatures, a huge playset and 8 extra outfits. The figures were all different body parts, different hairstyles and different clothes, some accessories were repeated from one figure to the other, but this also happened in MOTU.



This is a list of the released toys within the first wave, except gift sets, promotional packs and those kinds of things, which are terribly difficult to find.

Figures:
  • She-Ra – Most powerful woman in the universe!
  • Catra – Jealous beauty
  • Bow – Special friend who helps She-Ra!
  • Frosta – Ice empress of Etheria
  • Double Trouble – Glamorous double agent
  • Angella – Angelic winged guide
  • Glimmer – The guide who lights the way!
  • Kowl – The know-it owl!

Creatures:
  • Storm – Flies Catra to exciting adventures!
  • Arrow – True blue horse flies Bow to victory!
  • Swift Wind – Beautiful horse spirit, becomes magical flying unicorn!
  • Enchanta – Beautiful swan “flies” She-Ra and her friends on amazing adventures!

Playsets:
  • Cristal Castle – Shimmering castle of fantasy and fun for She-Ra and her friends!

Outfits (Fantastic Fashions):
  • Deep Blue Secret
  • Fit to be Tied
  • Flight of Fancy
  • Flower Power
  • Hold on to your Hat
  • Ready in Red
  • Rise and Shine
  • Veils of Mystery

Going now a little deeper in details, note that like in most action figure’s lines, the characters are divided in two opposing forces: the “good” ones and the “evil” ones. In the Princess of Power line, these two groups are called “the Great Rebellion” and “the Evil Horde” (remember that Etheria is also the native planet of Hordak and the Evil Horde). The singular in this toy line is that the Evil Horde’s only member is Catra, while the rest are “rebels”.

This makes the game a little bit unbalanced from my point of view… but this is for sure something intended: people in charge of PoP in Mattel probably thought that they should make much more good characters than evil ones, since the way girls play is completely different from boys. Take a line like Barbie, there’re no evil characters on it! It’s just Barbie and friends. I guess in this line, they wanted something between Barbie and Masters of the Universe: you can play good vs. evil, or you can just play girls have fun, ride horses and take a bath at Crystal Castle.

At least Catra was given a Horse to ride. From the 4 creatures, one belongs to the evil horde and the other three belong to the rebels, and now guess to whom belongs the Crystal Castle.

The outfits at least could be used with each figure, except Kowl and Bow. Well, you can try to fit them on Bow, but this type of play was not originally intended by Mattel.

  
Something very interesting about this line is that even though there were only a three waves made, totalling around 15 figures, there are many different comic books. Almost every figure had its own story written in a comic book of around 15 pages. I’m not sure if this was the same way in Spain, since my Spanish Angella came with “Adventure of the Blue Diamond” instead of “Journey to Mizar”. Maybe there were less comic books in Spanish than there were in English. Interestingly, Angella doesn’t appear at all in this comic book, where the most notable character seems to be Frosta (apart from She-Ra and Catra). As I could see, most Spanish figures came with either “Adventures of the Blue Diamond” or “The Hidden Symbols Mystery”.


Angella is my only carded figure from the PoP line. I found it in an old shop, and it had been in exposition. It was removed form the card, and then put again on it, and closed with staples. The figure also suffers from a slight sun discoloration, and is missing her comb, but it’s still a great figure! 


As their "brothers" the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra and the rest of figures came with a special feature. In this case, Angella has wings that flap by pressing a button on the back. Here're the instructions to operate the wings.

FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: ANGELLA
  • Toy Line: She-Ra: Princess of Power (wave 1)
  • Alternate Names: She-Ra y el Reino Mágico (Spain)
  • Year: 1985
  • Company: Mattel (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: 14 cm

BONUS: I now reproduce, as a bonus to this entry, the Spanish comic book “Adventure of the Blue Diamond”. Hope you enjoy the story (if you can read it).

 
 

 

 
 

Friday, June 22, 2012

#163 HERO QUEST – WIZARDS OF MORCAR (1993)


This article pretends to be a short update to my most successful entry to-date. Surprisingly for me, the article I wrote about Hero Quest is the most visited in the (short) history of this blog. Several weeks ago, I found Wizards of Morcar in a flea Market, and bought it, unfortunately without the box.


In that article, I already talked about some of the expansions that were released in the early 90s. This one was the last expansion released only in Europe, what makes it a complete rarity, and very difficult to find (as you can notice from this image, also shown in the first Hero Quest article).

Unlike this one, mine is the german version, not so expensive as the English version


The Wizards of Morcar expansion comprises two great new modules for the game.

The first one is already known from the “Hero Quest – Master Edition”, and is the 12 Henchmen figures with interchangeable weapons, which help the heroes in their quests (plus the cards to play with them).

The second one is the four magicians of the title, which are evil and have to be defeated. Each wizard has his own spells cards and characteristics, but all of them are evil and have to be defeated. The new card plates are also related to the magicians, like different types of blockades, mist or crevice.

The base game rules turn quite complicate when playing with such an expansion, and not to mention, if this expansion is combined with some more… this game is really only for experts.

The instructions and adventure book comes again with great artwork. Sorry for the pictures of the magicians, I should have taken a different background colour.

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: HERO QUEST WIZARDS OF MORCAR
  • Alternate Names: MORCARS MAGIER (German), DE MAGIËRS VAN MORCAR (Dutch), LOS HECHICEROS DE MORCAR (Spanish), LES SORCIERS DE MORCAR (French)
  • Year: 1993
  • Company: Milton Bradley (MB) (U.S.A.)
  • Size: I do not own the original package

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

#162 GAMA – PORSCHE 911 (Nr. 973) (Around 1966)




Gama is (or was) a German toymaker, founded as early as 1882 in Furth, a city near Nüremberg. It’s founder was Georg Adam MAngold, whose name gave name to the toy company.

During the first decades, the produced toys were mostly lithographed tinplate, as it happened with other contemporary toymakers, for example, Payá in Spain. This was the trend until the 50s. The company produced tanks in several scales, as well as trucks, motorcycles and other toys. The production was stopped during the 2nd World War, but restarted under the auspices of the Americans, who controlled this part of the country. Some of this old toys are marked “Made in the U.S. Zone Germany”.

In the 50s, the first plastic toys appear, although the mechanical tinplate toys were still a big part of the production. Tinplate toys were mostly wind-up or clockwork operated, like it’s contemporary Schuco toys. Also in common with this brand (or also to other brands like, again, Payá or Rico), Gama produced remote control (cabled) models in large scales. They even produced slot cars “Gama Rally” in the 60s and 70s that could spin 180º and drive in the opposite direction. These slot cars were produced in 1:24, 1:32 and 1:40 scales.



The Porsche in this article, belongs to the Gama Metal series, that was entirely built in 1:43 scale. This series was introduced in 1959, and to distinguish it from the slot or larger scale series, it was renamed “Minimods” (Mini Models). The toys are very similar to Corgis, and include features like practicable doors, bonnets, and so on, rubber tyres in aluminium wheels and decorated chassis. Rubber tyres were later replaced by one-piece “superfast-type” wheels. Some models included jewel-headlights.

Some chassis were made of plastic to spare manufacturing costs (what other brands would also do 20 years later), but it is not this case. 


To compete with matchbox and the rest of brands in 1:64 scale, Gama also produced the “Minette” series, which didn’t last long. Other toy line, released also as “Minimods” was a series of cars from the 1920s and 1930s, similarly to the Models of Yesteryear by Matchbox. They also licensed their models to many other foreign companies, what makes the identification of Gama’s models very difficult.




The company seems to have survived until the mid-90s, although in the last years, their production was quite small.

Curious about the box, is that some models were released in box that do not belong to the actual model. In this case, the box belongs to an older model, but I have seen many of them in which a tag has been applied at the side with the right serial number. This could be the case of my box, although I cannot assure it. 





 
Information: Wikipedia

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: PORSCHE 911 (Nrs. 973)
  • Scale: 1:43
  • Year: Around 1966
  • Company: Gama (Germany)
  • Size: approx. 9 cm
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